The national box office wasn't quite as healthy last weekend as it was the previous week, when the top three films combined for a staggering total gross of close to $30 million. But that doesn't mean things are hurting: "Beverly Hills Cop" picked up $11.5 million over the weekend, bringing its total 12-day gross to $36.5 million, the biggest total ever for a nonsummer movie.

The "BH Cop" totals naturally dropped from their first record-breaking weekend, but the movie certainly wasn't hurt yesterday, when it opened in 474 more theaters for a record total of 2,006. . .

Speaking of big numbers starting with 2, "2010" kept up its highly respectable grosses with a $4.1 million showing, though it slipped from second place to fourth, dropping behind "City Heat" and its new sci-fi epic competition, "Dune."

That film made $6 million and also did well overseas, breaking box- office records in Germany. But critics weren't the only ones who found "Dune" hard to follow: The complex film posed such a problem for some translators that its opening had to be postponed in several countries, including Japan . . .

It wasn't all good news for last week's big movies. "The Cotton Club" -- all $47 million of it -- had a lackluster $2.9 million opening that left Orion executives anxiously citing favorable exit polls and predicting improved business.

And "Starman," despite nearly unanimous acclaim as the holiday sleeper of the year, is still asleep: Even with the splashy cover headline and story in Newsweek, it also struggled with $2.9 million and left Columbia Pictures hoping for strong word-of-mouth to entice moviegoers . . .

If a little low-key controversy can help, though, "Starman" might be in luck. The dispute has arisen because director John Carpenter felt that Dean Riesner deserved credit for the "Starman" screenplay after extensively rewriting a script by Bruce Evans and Raymond Gideon; the Writers Guild disagreed, and in two arbitration hearings decreed that Evans and Gideon should receive sole screen credit.

That decision infuriated Carpenter, who turned around and dedicated the movie to Riesner. And now the guild says it's considering action against Carpenter and Columbia for that "consolation credit," either in the form of a financial settlement or a recall of the film. . .